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One step closer to large-scale production of universal platelets

last modified Sep 10, 2018 02:55 PM

An interdisciplinary collaboration between the groups of Prof Ruth Cameron, Prof Serena Best (both at Materials Science & Metallurgy) and Dr Cedric Ghevaert (Haematology) has led into the development of a new type of bioreactor for platelet production.

Platelet transfusions are a key treatment option for a range of life threatening conditions. Platelets can be collected from blood donations but systems to produce platelets in clinically relevant quantities outside human bodies would provide a useful substitute.

It is already possible to produce large quantities of megakaryocytes (MK) from human stem cells, but the ratio of platelets that can be harvested from these MK cells has been limited and has restricted platelet production rate.

In the collaboration, the groups have created a collagen scaffold within a flow bioreactor system seeded with human stem cells. Together, the new scaffold design, a bespoke bioreactor, and an optimised cell culture protocol offer a significant step towards large-scale production of human platelets.

The approach can be used to develop 'universal' platelets that can be used for transfusions without having to worry about blood type compatibility. Dr Ghevaert's group is also designing 'drug delivery' platelets that can be used to promote healing after a heart attack or stroke.

The collaboration has been published in Biomaterials.

Dr Ghevaert was interviewed recently for our 'Spotlight on...' series of research stories.

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